A university-based pro-Palestinian protest movement that has made headlines in the United States is being mirrored in Australia.

Encampments have sprung up at campuses in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Canberra, with participants calling on their teaching institutions to disclose and cut ties with weapons manufacturers they say are supplying arms to Israel.

In Victoria, some protests have become heated, with a counter-rally of pro-Israel supporters gathering near the University of Melbourne on Thursday. 

The movement began in New York at Columbia University on April 17, when a small group of students set up tents.

It has since spread across the US, and gained international attention.

Police arrest protesters attempting to camp in support of Palestinians on Washington University’s St. Louis campus.(St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP: Christine Tannous)

This week there were nearly 1,000 arrests at different locations, and students were evicted and suspended from campus accommodation

In Adelaide, El Hall said protesters were demonstrating in solidarity with students in the US. 

“Students across the US are really, really brave for continuing to come out,” she said. 


Pro-Palestinian activists have been camping for the past week at the University of Melbourne.

“We’re under no misconception that its not a long fight but we are here for the long run,” one of the organisers said. 

On Thursday they faced off with members of Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS), who called for social cohesion.

Amira Susskind said she doesn’t want to attend university because of messaging around the campus from other students or on posters or stickers.  

“I’ve honestly been feeling really horrible. I’ve lost a lot of friends since October 7th,” she said.  

“I had really close friends that I thought were friends for life but have since said that Jews run the world, that we have tentacles, all of these really horrific lies and anti-Semitic tropes that have completely broken our friendships. 

“It’s also on campus everywhere.”

Pro-Palestinian activists have been camping at Melbourne University since April 25.(ABC News: Danielle Bonica)

Another encampment has since been established at Monash University’s Clayton campus, where a counter protest was staged overnight.

“We are aware of a small group who entered Monash University Clayton campus overnight to protest at the site of the encampment,” a university spokesperson said. 

Police said they had responded to reports of people “causing trouble”, and moved 10 people on just before 1am.

At a press conference in Melbourne, federal Victorian MP Josh Burns said students had a fundamental right to protest, but warned Australian protesters from taking cues from the US.

A Jewish student association also rallied, calling for social cohesion and an end to hatred on university campuses.(ABC News: Danielle Bonica)

“In the United States it’s turned violent. People have bombarded and broken windows and turned these encampments into violence,” Mr Burns said.

“I don’t want that to happen in Australia.”


Students set up tents at the University of Sydney last Tuesday calling on its institution to cut ties with Israel. (ABC News: Brooke Chandler)

Students set up camp at the University of Sydney last Tuesday and said they had no intention of leaving until the institution met their demands. 

The university’s vice chancellor has already said the institution would not cut academic ties to Israel.

Deaglan Goodwin says students plan to stay put until their demands are met. 

One of the protest organisers, university student Deaglan Goodwin, said that was “unsurprising”. 

“We have received no communication from the university in response to our demands, in response to our calls to publicly meet and debate us around whether our university should be complicit,” he said. 

He denied accusations of anti-Semitism and said the camp was a safe space. 

“We are a camp that is welcome to all religions, ethnicities and races,” he said. 

An encampment of pro-Palestinian protesters at the University of Sydney. (ABC News: Brooke Chandler)

Mr Goodwin labelled what he described as “excessive amounts of police violence” in America against student protesters as “abhorrent” and called on the university and NSW Police to refrain from using similar measures. 


At the University of Adelaide, Students for Palestine organisers said about 150 students attended the launch of an encampment on Wednesday night.

They said 16 tents housing two dozen students had been set up.

“We’ve had just brilliant community support … like an outpouring of donations and messages of welcome,” law and arts student El Hall said.

About 150 students protested at the University of Adelaide with dozens camping over night.  (ABC News: Bethanie Alderson)

Ms Hall said the encampment would remain for an “indefinite” amount of time, as activists waited to see the university’s response.

“Students [at Columbia University], they’ve been going since April 17 — so it’s something to look at,” she said. 

“We think that our education should not be for war and destruction, but should be, obviously, for learning.”

A University of Adelaide spokesperson said it supports lawful freedom of expression and peaceful protests.

“The University of Adelaide is committed to working in partnership with industry to find solutions to some of society’s most important challenges which includes helping to improve our nation’s sovereign defence capability,” the spokesperson said. 

It said the university was “reviewing its endowment fund investments and responsible investment principles more broadly”. 


Protesters have also been camping out at the Australian National University in Canberra.

Earlier this week, student Beatrice Tucker said they had tried other forms of protest in the past but there was a lack of traction on campus.

“This is the spark that people needed to see,” they said.

“We’re finally doing something substantial that forces the university to have to actually respond to our demands.”

Group of Eight chief executive and director Vicki Thomson said despite the protests mirroring events in America, she said the two countries were fundamentally different.  

“I think we’ve got to be really mindful of the fact that we’re not the US,” she said.

“In many ways what’s happening on our campuses is a pretty good representation of the fact that we are a truly multicultural society and we can have differences of opinion.”

She said the organisation, which represents Australia’s leading universities, had no plans to shut down any protest on Australian shores at this stage.

“We understand that this is really uncomfortable for large parts of our communities but at the end of the day freedom of speech and free speech, this is it in action,” she said.

Minister for Youth Anne Aly said it concerned her that students on campus were feeling unsafe and that universities should enforce their code of conduct.

“I think first of all protest and the right to protest is a cornerstone of our democracy, however, I draw the line at where protests become intimidating or violent,” she said.

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